Brian Peck tells us everything from starting out skating in Connecticut, moving West to the SkateHouse and everything in between including his adventure in Europe last year on the Foreign Exchange tour. Enjoy!
Hello Brian, how are you?
I’m great, thanks. Just relaxing on the second day of 2014, getting some work done and stoked to be doing this interview with you! How are you doing?
Great! Happy New Year?
Happy New Year to you too! I’ve never been one to go crazy and party hard for New Year’s, but I definitely like the feeling of a fresh start, a blank slate so to speak. 2014 is going to be a good one, that’s for sure.
What do you have in store for 2014?
Hopefully lots of travelling, skating, surfing, stacking clips and shooting photos.
How did you get into skateboarding?
When I was growing up skating really started to get big in popular culture: the X-Games were on TV, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater was the raddest game on Playstation, stuff like that. It was sort of all around me and I thought it looked like fun. Once my older brother got a board I could steal, it was on.
Where did you grow up?
I was born and raised in Connecticut
Is there a big skate community there?
Big, no. Tight-knit and dedicated, yes.
What sort of skating does Connecticut offer?
Nothing really in specific, now that I think about it. Some of the bigger cities have decent street spots but I’ve never been much of a street skater. We have hills, but no real mountains. In the last few years some really nice concrete skateparks have been popping up. I guess nicely paved neighbourhoods aka suburbia is pretty Connecticut.
Which of those do you enjoy skating most?
After living in California for a few years, I’m definitely spoiled with the hills and skate parks out here. I do have lots of fun skating the new parks in Connecticut.
Why did you leave?
I knew that if I wanted to take skateboarding seriously and make a job out of it, I had to be closer to the industry. Also, winter.
How hard is it to make a career in the skate industry?
If you are motivated and are a hard worker, anything is possible. Talent on a skateboard helps, as does knowing the right people. The saying “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” holds very true.
Who are the most important people to know?
Hard working, motivated people who have already carved a path for themselves and who are willing to help you out along the way.
What sort of job did you envision for yourself?
Something that takes advantage of my technological skills as well as my love and passion for skateboarding: filming, editing, shooting photos, managing Instagram and Facebook accounts, web design, stuff like that.
Have you found it?
I’m still working on creating a position for myself that works for me and my sponsors, so far this year is looking very promising.
How important is social media in today’s industry?
Super important. Kids spend so much time on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube these days. Social media is probably the best way to reach young people in the age group that most skate companies are targeting.
When did you start working with the camera?
I’ve been taking photos for fun since I was about 13, but since just last year (2013) I really started trying to get better at filming downhill and shooting the artsiest Instagams known to man.
What are your weapons of choice?
My iPhone 4s.
Do you have fancy lenses?
Photography isn’t really something I take too seriously (yet). I just whip out my iPhone when I like what I see and click away.
What’s the most important thing about shooting skateboarders?
Good light. Personally, I like shooting skaters doing their own thing… Like, not asking a rider to try a certain trick for the camera. I might ask someone to hit a feature that’s well lit but generally I like to capture what’s going down on its own.
Are they difficult subjects?
Some skaters can be, most are pretty chill.
How different are filming and photography?
Video is like photo but with the fourth dimension of time added. 24 to 30 frames (photos) make up every second of smooth video, you have to be aware of the light and framing and all that throughout the whole process, rather than just capturing one frame and being done with it.
Why is light important?
In its most basic form, photography is capturing light. The more light there is, the easier it is to see what’s going on, to capture detail, to emphasize what exactly you want the viewer to see as important. Good lighting is everything.
What do you want the viewers of your work to feel?
I like to show off awesome spots, nice vistas and stylish skaters who deserve recognition.
Where would skating be without videos?
I think that videos are a big reason why skaters can get so good, so quickly these days. Anyone in the world now has the ability to watch the world’s best do what they do, they can zoom in, slow footage down, go frame by frame to analyze what’s going on, where your weight/balance should be, how to manipulate your board with your feet, etc. I know a lot of old school guys from the “magazine era” are bigger fans of photos than video, because that’s what they grew up on. I’m not from that era. When I really got into skating, I didn’t have many people to ride with so I spent a lot of time online watching videos and getting hyped, then I’d go out and skate and try to learn new things on my own.
What are the defining videos of this generation of skating?
Can’t really say, honestly. Everyone seems to enjoy something different.
What do you shoot with?
Whatever SkateHouse cam/lenses are available at any given time. Mostly Canon – we have 7D, 6D and T3i bodies and lots of lenses.
What kind of videos did you enjoy most?
When I started, the whole “longboarding” thing was still really small and finding any sort of related media was tough. Anything I could find back then would make me happy. These days, I’m super picky when it comes to a skater’s style, how well a video was filmed, soundtrack, etc.
When did you finally find people to ride with?
Once I started travelling to go to events and races.
Do you remember the first time you went fast?
Depends on what you mean by “fast!” The first weekend I owned a longboard, I went down this hill by my house, wobbled out and Texas two-stepped my way to a broken wrist. I’ll never forget my first run down the infamous 70-80mph Colorado road, the adrenaline rush after that one was special.
Did the injury put you off?
Without fully realizing it at the time, I guess I sort of accepted that getting hurt was a part of the game and I didn’t really mind. Breaking a bone for the first time made me feel like a badass, haha!
Why did you want to compete?
Around 2005-2007 ish, races were kind of the only events you could go to if you wanted to meet other people into downhill. Slidefest was going on but that was in California, and California was a looong way away for a 16-year old in Connecticut. After freerides and slide jams really started to take off, I realized that being competitive wasn’t really my thing.
What was the first competition you attended?
If my memory isn’t too hazy, I think it was a slalom race at the Ball Mountain Dam in Jamaica, Vermont in October 2004.
Are there any events on the Connecticut calendar?
Nothing comes to mind. I kinda wish The Farm would come back! (Those who know, know.)
Who are the OG’s there?
Gotta give my friends Joe Iacovelli and Marshall Deming shout-outs, for sure. You guys may not have heard of them but they helped start it all for me.
When did you finally get to travel to California?
My first California trip was a long weekend in San Diego for Gravity Slidefest in November 2007.
Was it as fun as you’d dreamt?
It was epic, and slightly overwhelming. I knew that a few days for one event was not enough, at all. California is huge and after finally seeing the amazing landscape, I knew I had to come back.
What did that trip open your eyes to?
How big everything is: the industry, the turnout at events in California, the hills, the love within the community, all that.
Did you compete at the slide fest?
Yeah, I did. Having to do my runs after Sergio Yuppie was a little intimidating!
Had you ever seen anyone skateboarding like that?
In person, no. Gravity’s video “Flow” was kind of my bible until that point so I was definitely familiar with the skill and style of shredders like Sergio and Brad Edwards, both of whom I was super stoked to meet at Slidefest.
Are you into the same sort of skating?
I used to be. I’ve kind of gone through phases where I focus on different aspects of downhill. “Hard wheel sliding” was the shit back then, these days most of the hard wheel riding I do is in skateparks.
What are you focusing on these days?
Trying to keep a fresh perspective and skate as much as possible, learning new tricks on our miniramp, staying safe while riding downhill, and getting pitted when the waves are good to stay balanced and in-shape.
What has been your favourite year of skating?
The one that hasn’t happened yet!
When did you get to return to Cali after that first gravity slide fest?
Spring of 2008, I finished up the school year and headed to SoCal for a fun little trip. Got to ride GMR for the first time with K-Rimes and mega-OG Jimmy Flindt. Then we all road-tripped to Albuquerque in Andrew Mercado’s van for my first Ditch Slap. Good times.
Who is Jimmy Flindt?
Jimmy is an OG from the early downhill racing days, he’s one of the few guys who made the transition to the hands-down sliding style that really helped take downhill to the next level.
What skateboards are you riding right now?
Comet Noah Sakamoto airframe on Paris street 169’s and SPFs for park stuff
Comet Metric Bomb airframe on Paris street 169’s and small Sector 9 softies for driveway slashing
Comet Farmer on forged Paris 180s and 70mm Sector 9 wheels for fast downhill
Are any of those your sponsors?
All of the above! Much love to Comet Skateboards, Paris Truck Co and Sector 9 for keeping me rolling and rolling in style.
When did you first hook up with those companies?
I’ve been riding for Paris since the end of 2008 when I first moved to California, Comet since the beginning of 2013, and I’m not exactly sure on a date for Sector, basically since Louis Pilloni’s been riding/working for ‘em (2010?).
How do those companies help you live your skate dream?
Their support keeps me supplied with the best gear I could ask for and allows me to travel the world to ride my skateboard. They also support other riders and events and make what we ALL do possible. Can’t complain about that!
Do Paris trucks works for street stuff?
Earlier this year we came out with our street trucks, and honestly they work better than Indy’s for what I try to do on ‘em.
What is a Comet Skateboard?
An intergalactic space-time travelling machine, complete with kicktails for ollie-pop action (accessories sold separately).
What is your role in the Comet family?
Team rider and occasional pilot of the spaceship aka team van.
Where did 2013 take you?
Back to the West coast, where I’m super happy to call “home.” Across the Atlantic to Europe for the first time, which was a trip of a lifetime. Into the ocean, in search of waves to ride.
What was it like skating outside NorAm?
Paris Truck Co/Resource Distribution did a nice little Euro tour which brought us through the Netherlands, Germany, France, Spain and Belgium. Comet also played a huge role in helping me get out there so big thanks to them. Skating all new hills, parks and cities on an entirely new continent was amazing. Meeting so many new people to share the skate experience with was humbling, to say the least.
Who did you hit the road with?
The crew was me, Kody Noble, Amanda Powell, James West, MattK, Ari Chamasmany, Mike Girard, Joey Pulsifer (Paris Truck Co owner), Justin Reynolds (Riviera Skateboards manager), Andrew Parker (Resource filmer) and my homie Patty P who donated fat to our Kickstarter and got to come along for the ride.
What was the point of the tour?
Meeting and skating with locals, as well as hooking up with shops and distributors around Europe.
Was there any culture shock?
More so when I came back to America and was bummed at how much radder Europe is at most things.
Not just cheese?
One thing America definitely does better than Europe is breakfast. Sorry, France… I got kinda sick of baguettes pretty quick!
What do you call a breakfast without bacon?
Nothing more than a shitty snack.
When are we going to see FX tour: Europe videos?
Sometime soon, hopefully! Early 2014 I think, but don’t quote me on that…
Where did you have the most fun?
Probably Barcelona, it felt like the California of Europe. Beautiful city, architecture basically built for skating, awesome weather, great people. The whole trip was amazing though, don’t get me wrong.
What did you enjoy about the community there?
Everyone had a super positive attitude.
You mentioned a Skate House earlier – do you live there?
Yeah, SkateHouseMedia in LA is (usually) where I rest my head.
How did you get involved with the project?
I’m super proud to say I’ve been a part of SkateHouse since the beginning. Max Dubler and I were on the East Coast bumming about the upcoming winter at the end of 2008 and decided to drive west to move to California. I was already friends with Louis Pilloni, James Kelly and Brent Dubendorff (who were living in LA) and hit them up about me and Max moving in. Dubes (Brent) ended up moving out, MattK came out from Montreal a few months later and the rest is history.
What did you guys set out to achieve in the beginning?
We just wanted to have a single spot to put the videos and photos we were making.
Did you ever think it would get this big?
No way, Jose!
What are your favourite house memories?
Ah man, way too many to list.
Who has been your favourite recent visitor?
Hmm… Whenever Jensen is around I try to film him and tell him to try new shit on the ramp, so that’s always fun. This chick Kaleigh just came down from Canada and visitor-wise killed it harder than most, so shout outs to her.
Girl visitors are clearly more popular!
Ha, not like that! She cooked for us, helped keep the house clean, real basic stuff you might think is common knowledge but a lot of our guests don’t seem to get how it works.
What’s the furthest someone has come to visit?
Not sure, honestly. We get people visitors from literally all over the world. You should come hang out and claim that shit for Africa!
What’s a typical day in the life of Brian?
Sleep in, eat a big breakfast, answer emails/do some computer work, ship out a few packages from the SkateHouse store, go surf with my ocean buddy ‘Manda Powell, head back to the house to skate the ramp after 3pm, attempt to get some more work done while slowly fading, go to sleep in my van and do it all over again the next day.
Pick 3 numbers!
3, 69, 12:34
3 – what crime are you most likely to go to prison for?
Unauthorized distribution of paraphernalia.
69 – What is Victoria’s secret?
Victoria is a man.
12:34: What’s your favourite album?
Depends on the time of day, day of the week, time of the year, etc. Recently I’ve been digging “Roll the Bones” by Shakey Graves.
Haha can’t believe we got this done in one sitting. Thanks for sharing your story bru. Gotta go bacon hunting together in the future!
Thanks for the opportunity to chat! Hope we can kick it, skate and chow on some bacon soon.
Any last words?
It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it. Style is everything! Big thanks to my sponsors for the support and for making what I do possible.
And follow me on Instagram! @brianpeck